Whether we're talking about its reliance on fetishization, the overt pay discrepancies or the fact that it's always been a predominantly white space, it's no secret that porn has a race problem. But after 20 years of shared experience as performers, educators and master fetish trainers, Jet-Setting Jasmine and King Noire are trying to instigate change with their award-winning adult production company, Royal Fetish Films — and it's a masterclass in leading by example.

Since its inception, Royal Fetish has challenged industry norms by demonstrating what a more inclusive, ethical and safe space for BIPOC performers actually looks like. And it all began about 10 years ago, after the real-life couple — who you may also recognize from their @sexpositiveparenting Instagram — started hosting their Fantasy Flight fetish parties. Primarily attended by Black women, it didn't take long for Jasmine and King to start hearing about how their attendees didn't "feel good watching" the Black porn that was currently available. So as a result, the pair began making work that was more about being "able to show people of color in a way that most porn does not."

"[In other porn productions], they're making us work... They're not showing a romantic scene where it's not only about the hardest fucking you've ever seen," King said, before Jasmine went on to say that Royal Fetish tries to give people a more holistic, realistic view of BIPOC sex.

Royal Fetish's productions tend to focus more on passion and foreplay, all while showcasing sex that isn't hinged on harmful stereotypes or pigeonholing. And sometimes achieving this is as simple as just letting people be themselves — whether that means allowing models to speak normally or encouraging Black performers to incorporate things that "highlight our culture, like waist beads or headwraps or ankhs."

"We would never tell [a performer] like, 'Hey, the jewelry you're wearing is too cultural. Please leave that out,'" King added. "We also don't ask people to speak in a way that they wouldn't naturally speak. For example, we were talking to a performer that's Asian and they were telling her to not speak clear English. We're not here to try and sell a caricature. We're here to actually show people having the sex that they enjoy, but showing how beautiful it is at the same time."

After all, these kinds of issues were things that King had to experience firsthand as a former performer. And so, by the time the couple had started the Fantasy Flight series, he had already left the industry because his "overall experience from porn wasn't great," especially as someone with a background in activism.

"Fetishized porn has made the porn industry be able to fix itself after losing all the money they lost."

"Since I had been in the porn industry, people were asking me all the time, 'What was that experience like?,' especially since I know the history of our people," King said. "And I was like, 'Yeah, that's why I couldn't really fuck with it.' There was so much racism going on."

These racialized fetishes have roots in colonization and are predicated upon "the oppressor always romanticizing and fetishizing the oppressed" — something that's evident through the continued hypersexualization of Black women or the "big Black cock" fetish in porn. Because as King explained, these particular ideas have roots in the slave auction when white people "would try and choose men with the largest penis, because they felt they would breed the best, or Black women with their hips." However, the only difference now is that "white people can't just say that anymore out in the open."

"They can't be like, 'I think Black people are more sexual because of X, Y and Z. So instead, they find it in their porn," King said. "Or, they think it would be hot to have sex with a woman in a burqa, because they're told, 'These people are bad and wrong, and they don't have sex.' So as an American conqueror, I want to have sex with a woman in a burqa."

He continued, "A lot of these really extreme racialized fetishes are a white person conquering these other people sexually. They're never like, 'I love Black people because of their ability to overcome obstacles.' It's always like, 'No, I want to fuck Black people, because they have this body part. Or, I want to fuck Asian people, because I think they're subservient to white people. It's always that conquering involved in it."

But in terms of porn's continued perpetuation of these fetishes, King went on to say that a lot of it can be chalked up to the industry itself cashing in on this content as a way to recoup the losses they incurred from the shift to online.

"You look at porn over the last 10 years, what has been the biggest shit? Interracial, BBC. Right? Latino, Asian," he said. "Fetishized porn has made the porn industry be able to fix itself after losing all the money they lost from still trying to have craft services and make VHS tapes. But how did porn catch up? Through the fetishization of people of color and Black bodies."

"You do need to take the time and talk and ask and reassure and check in. Because we have been an abused people, and continue to be."

Granted, the duo said that the issue likely won't go away until there is a wider cultural shift toward addressing sex workers and porn. After all, as Jasmine went on to explain, despite porn and sex workers being "everybody's guilty pleasure," the puritanical mores that prevent us from admitting to these dirty little secrets mean that we are never forced to face the idea that we may have "this nasty fetish or this dehumanizing idea in this little pocket of my life."

"No one wants to talk, fix or improve the guilty pleasure. It's a guilty pleasure for a reason, right? And in order for me to fit in and improve, it would mean that I have to fix and improve the issue that I have within myself," she said. "But that's exactly where it stops. With like, 'Oh, god, this is horrible. But who do I tell about it, because if I tell someone about it, then they know I watch it.' Or, they're talking about fetishization, and 'I wouldn't like that and I don't want them to take that away from me. So I'm just gonna silence that. I'm not gonna talk about that.'"

In the meantime though, they said that diversifying porn companies and urging them to have deeper conversations about racial issues are essential steps toward fixing this problem — especially amidst the long-overdue conversations spurred by the Black Lives Matter movement. As King said, "Do you know how much racist shit would be avoided if you had a Black person that worked in your office that could tell you, 'Nah dude, that's a bad fucking idea?'"

"A lot of these companies are like, 'Oh, shit, we're not racist. We posted Black Lives Matter and now we're good.' Meanwhile, the name of their company is Blacked and it's saying that fucking Black people makes you somehow 'tainted.' Or you're Dog Fart and you've been making the most racist shit ever for the last 10 years. Or you're BangBros who owns Black Patrol," he added.

"You're not understanding the ramifications of what you're putting out there," he said. "You're trying to capitalize on it, so a lot of these companies are not trying to get any better. They're hoping that this will blow over. Or they'll just want to pick up the group of people that are still racist, that are still looking to buy racist ass porn. And they know that because of the lack of opportunity for Black people in our industry, there's always going to be somebody who needs to pay the rent or needs to eat, so they're willing to take a fucked up scene."

Like other forms of media, Jasmine — who also has a background in psychotherapy with an emphasis on intimacy and post-intimacy trauma — said that ensuring there's also representation behind the camera will go a long way in terms of creating a safe space with a level of cultural sensitivity toward BIPOC talent, particularly Black performers.

"I do think that there is some value in understanding generational trauma when it comes to people of color, and sex and sexuality. I think sometimes a lot is not understood about the nuances of our sex with pacing, for example," she said, adding that while some other porn production companies may have good intentions, "understanding the needs of the population that they want to shoot with" is equally as important.

"There is a high turnover rate for people in industry, especially for Black and brown performers because of that pigeon hole that we get placed in."

"[Especially when productions are rushed], things are not taken into consideration. Like, the type of care our people need. Or why something may take a little longer for somebody who comes from a history of being objectified. That they might need to get into a safe space," Jasmine continued.

"And I'm not saying you have to take a long history lesson, or do a long Black history lesson to shoot Black people, but you do need to take the time and talk and ask and reassure and check in. Because we have been an abused people, and continue to be. That level of cultural sensitivity I think is missing," she said.

At the end of the day though, these are all things that Royal Fetish are trying to address — and they're doing so by leading through example. And the next step? A documentary porn film about a recent all-women production helmed by Jasmine, which will give insight into how exactly they construct a scene with the tenets of consent, passion and kink in mind. And in line with this ethos of visibility, Jasmine and King are also in the process of making an animated video called "Poly Sutra," in which you're able to see "Black and Brown bodies enjoying kink in its fullest expression."

According to Jasmine, they're also currently developing a new mentorship program dedicated to helping "create longevity in the porn industry for Black and brown performers," in an effort to help keep BIPOC creatives within adult.

"There is a high turnover rate for people in industry, especially for Black and brown performers because of that pigeon hole that we get placed in. And you can only deal with that for so long, especially at the expense of your body and emotional labor. The expense of the sacrifice you make from your friends, your family and all of the things that come with this stigmatization [of sex work]," she explained, as she detailed the wide set of skills many people don't necessarily know that they have.

After all, while performers do everything from marketing to accounting themselves, it's also about knowing that your career in porn "doesn't have to stop when you are ready to stop shooting."

"But because it's a highly stigmatized industry, you really can't take that information and cross transfer it," Jasmine said. "So our work will be really helping [BIPOC] people explore other other ways of creating a sustainable career in porn."

Welcome to "Sex with Sandra," a column by Sandra Song about the ever-changing face of sexuality. Whether it be spotlight features on sex work activists, deep dives into hyper-niche fetishes, or overviews on current legislation and policy, "Sex with Sandra" is dedicated to examining some of the biggest sex-related discussions happening on the Internet right now.

Photo courtesy of Royal Fetish Films

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